22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2007
I bought this album without hearing any of the tracks beforehand, on the strength of Tracy Thorn's unique voice, her collaboration with massive attack and, of course, her work as half of everything but the girl for which she is best known. After only ten days of listening to it at every opportunity, I have been rewarded with a sense of smugness that my instinct was right, and can honestly say that this album is an instant classic. Although it is multi-faceted in style and tempo, Out of The Woods never fails to excite my musical palate, and I have found myself playing it to any friend who shares my passion for music. In particular, even as a hardened clubber and lover of house music, I have been completely blown away by the feeling I get every time I listen to Grand Canyon, which for me is the standout track. The instrumental alone makes this song worthy of being a massive hit in clubland, but the vocal gives it so much more depth and if there is any justice at all, it will be heard at the end of the night at all the best nights in the country!
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2007
This record was a great surprise and is a true pleasure. Thorn has made a gorgeous album: eleven tracks mesh a domestic setting and soulful feelings with electronica beats laced with piano and strings. All the while she masters (as she has for a great many years) the fine art of infusing her voice with a wistful sadness but letting the delivery be glassy and poised. The true depth of emotion only partly seeps through; the listener gets the feeling that something more painful is held out of view.
A loose concept seems to jaunt through the album: The setting is usually domestic; the mood is that of a soulful house party, swaying between meditation and disco. The quiet, almost whispered vocals of the opening tracks set to strings shimmy into the dance beats of "It's all true" and "Get Around to it"; the light-footed "Hands up to the ceiling" gives way to a deep-beated, high-vocalled exploration of love ("if there's any doubt / You're better off without"), the mid-tempo "Falling off a log" and onto the dancefloor of "Grand Canyon" with its throbbing refrain. The party arc is brought to a close not in the thoughtful reflection of "By Piccadilly Station" but with the beat-led "Raise the roof", leaving you with the feeling that the party shimmies on.
If there is one weakness, it would lie in the programming: the voguish club beats are occasionally too banal or unadventurous (e.g. "Grand Canyon", "Get Around to it"). But this doesn't stop the album being genuinely fresh and quirky, especially in its interweaving of intimacy, experiences of motherhood and electronica (which reminded me of Kate Bush's "Aeriel"). Thorn shows off her skills as a talented lyricist, demonstrating a facility with rhymes and threading some great lyric flourishes in: "Nowhere near" finds her "crying, confessing, and counting my blessings"; later she sings plaintively, "Do you ever wonder where love goes?/ Out there in the ether, I suppose / Sometimes it burns enough to leave a trace in the air / A ghost of me and you in a parallel world somewhere". And the emotional climax of the album (for me) is expressed in the sense of waneful regret in the couplets of the final track: "All those years I wasted / Sitting on my own / Think what I could have tasted / If I'd only known".
Stand-out tracks: "Here it comes again", "A-Z", "Raise the roof", "Hands up to the ceiling"
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2007
I have never written a review for an album but on this occasion, I have felt moved to want to encourage anyone who enjoys good music to get Out of the Woods. It is rare that you can buy an album that you can play again and again on repeat and enjoy every song without getting bored. Across a broad bandwidth of emotions and with complex sentiments and complicated pleasures, this album showcases Tracey's amazing voice and her amazing and unpredictable musical talent. As if that wasn't enough, the album has extraordinary production values and the detail is thoughtful, clever and bears days and weeks worth of listening. The intelligence that has gone into this album is stunning and Tracey should be well awarded and rewarded for bring British music and singing to a new high. Thanks Tracey.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2007
This is a wonderful album from someone whose voice is one of the most fabulous I have ever heard. I have loved it since the early days of Everything but the Girl, and the wait since the last album put out by them has been a very long one. I cannot descirbe my excitement when I found out this album was about to be released.
If you know Everything but the Girl you will be familiar with the depth, silkiness and effortless sensitivity of Tracey Thorn's voice, coupled here with some bautiful songs; it is a fabulous mix of dance music alongside the raw emotion familiar from her EBTG days, which suits her voice so well.
She surely is one of our most underrated and talented artists. I never tire of the sound of her voice, and this album displays her at her very best. I dare you to listen to it and not feel joy!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2007
I bought this album on the back of hearing the excellent 'It's all true'- track 3 on the album. That track is a smooth, electronica tune, quite reminiscent of EBTG of old. Elsewhere, the album is mostly a far more sombre and chilled-out affair, save for a quite deep-housey track, 'Grand Canyon' (track 9, also a great tune, I haven't checked but it sounds suspiciously Ben Watts-produced). This is a good thing however. If you're considering this album in the first place you will already be well-aware of Thorn's intoxicating vocals and she has truly surpassed herself with this effort. All the tracks on here are at least pretty good, most are very good. Thought-provoking and reflective lyrics are the order of the day, and when you've finished listening through it (it only takes 45 mins) you get the feeling that you've really listened to something quite exceptional. The stand-out tracks for me are 'Grand Canyon' and the track that immidiatley follows it, 'By Piccadily station I sat down and wept'- 2 hugely contrasting tunes that demonstrate the depth of this album and Thorn's unquestionale talent. I'm sure some of you would agree with me that all too many reviewers seem keen to dish out 5*'s for music that ends up as more like a 3*. This is a genuine 5* album and one of the best CD's i've heard so far this year.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2012
At the peak of their career, Everything But The Girl decided to call it a day in the early 2000's which was such a shame as their blend of Dance and Pop proved to be most effective with superb tracks such as "Missing", "Walking Wounded" and "Wrong". Nevertheless, 2007 sees the relaunch of Tracey Thorn's solo career will her second solo release "Out Of The Woods". This album is a very sophisticated mix of Pop ballads and Dance influenced tracks with some very nice surprises.
"Here It Comes Again" is a peaceful and angelic sounding Pop ballad with soft vocals from Tracey. The pace quickens with two of my favorite tracks "A-Z" and "It's All True" which both have a distinctive 80's feel to them and a strong Dance influence with addictive basslines, melodies and arrangements. "Get Around To It" is a Funk inspired Pop track with a groovy vibe and cool arrangements. "Hands Up To The Ceiling" is a reflective guitar and piano led ballad with an understated chorus. "Easy" is an atmospheric and suave mid-tempo Pop track. "Falling Off A Log" is another 80's inspired track which is a style that suits Tracey like a glove and is a third highlight. A short but sweet ballad "Nowhere Near" is followed by a very rhythmic Dance track "Grand Canyon" which shows just how confident Tracey is when switching between tempos and genres. "By Picadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept" is a melancholic ballad and is followed by the final song "Raise The Roof" which is a very upliting and infectious Pop creation and is my favorite of all the tracks.
"Out Of The Woods" is a great album that blends together beautiful ballads and addictive Pop and Dance songs. Although Tracey Thorn is a very introverted character, she seems to be enjoying her return to the limelight with this positive and inspirational album and so she should.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
There's a two star review on here that decries the repetitiveness of the dance beat of many of the tracks on here, which seems a bit churlish if a) you've ever listened to any of EBTG's later material and b) listened to more than half the tracks on this CD.
I bought this after digging out my EBTG CDs to play in the car. I've got Walking Wounded, which is very dance orientated and The Best of EBTG which features a great cross section of their stuff from the early Folk-like songs (including a couple where Ben sings!) through their later dance stuff.
This CD seems to span the styles well, with Tracey's wistful voice on tracks like Here It Comes again, Hands Up to the Ceiling, Nowhere Near and Easy, regardless of whether there's a drum machine in the background or not.
If you like EBTG's span of material, you'll love this album (the later Love and its Opposite is more of challenge, although I think it's great too). If you like well written songs sung beautifully (she must have one of the very best pop voices of the last 30 years and she seems to use more of her range on this CD than on some later EBTG material) this is a CD you should own too.
Ignore the 'Bedroom Disco' comments, this is far more than that and is a great intro to Tracey's lovely voice and clever songwriting or a great addition to your collection if, like me, you look back over a multi decade music collection and see EBTG as a highlight.
Perhaps not (as someone said) the best CD you can buy this year, but one you should IMO.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2007
Fabulash. No missteps on Tracey's second solo cd (I still have a soft spot for A Distant Shore). There is an almost Sinead-like clarity and purity to the opening track, which superbly highlights Tracey's upper register. Similarly, the closing track reminds me a little bit of the soul precision of Annie Lennox's vox.
Grand Canyon will go down a treat in the clubs. To my mind, Easy should be lifted as the second single. Easy's soundscape is a lil bit Massive Attack, and I think Massive Attack lifts, as long as they are done right, are perfectly legit; check out Fundamental, the closer on All Saints latest album. The lead single took a lil while to grow on me - but once it did, I luved the 80s vibe. And the sly disco romp of Get Around To It is a treat.
Tracey's lyrics are intelligent and heartfelt - she is one of my fave lyricists; up there with Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Aimee Mann, Jarvis Cocker.
To my mind, there is no filler on this album. And in a time of bloated long-players (that remind you why the prefix long is glued on) that's great stuff.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2007
The much anticipated Out Of The Woods is a quiet celebration of discovery- of who we were, who we are now and the people that matter. Tracey has approached each song on here, her second solo album, with the same degree of honesty and depth of feeling that she has brought consistently to her songwriting since 1984, first in a solo A Distant Shore then together with partner Ben Watt as Everything But The Girl and 9 studio albums, the last one, Temperamental, released in 1999.
All these songs are like tiny perfect gems that sparkle on the outside with musical jingle-jangles and tricks but if you look deep you'll find hidden shadows. This is an album you can play all day and still rediscover different musical moods and moments on each relisten.
Reaching soaring heights musically and vocally the opening track 'Here It Comes Again' is treated with a delicate openess that throws all attention on that gorgeous voice and lyrics. It makes an interesting opener and sets the mood for the musical contrasts that power through this album. Different producers and different musical visions for each track and tying it all together is that voice.
Highlights include a Tom Gandey treated 'A-Z'- a smouldering packing a bag/leaving home song about escaping small-time town hell and 'It's All True' a non-apologetic love-song that powers along with a welcome return to a dance beat and a chorus that will be stuck in your head for days. Then there's Ewan Pearson's beautiful re-working of the Pet Shop Boy's Kings Cross- one of 2 well-chosen covers.
Listen to Martin Wheeler's production on 'Easy' for pure moody perfection and for anyone wanting to relive the 90's club heights of 'Missing' there's the Charles Webster mix of 'Grand Canyon'- wait for the re-mixes. 'Raise The Roof' is a slow-working shimmery favourite that revisits the lament of regret in 'Missing' - 'Why did I wait? Don't tell me it's too late'.
This is definitely worth the wait for any long-time fan of ebtg and Tracey Thorn but if not a fan then you may just be surprised and just moved a little...
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2007
I have to admit to being a big fan of Tracey and EBTG....20 some years!!. Tracey has one of the finest voices that has ever graced our shores, let alone anyone elses. I have to admit that whilst I loved the later stuff her voice was sometimes overpowered by the drum and bass. I have waited (along with many others) with baited breath for new material, whilst Tracey made the right decision to enjoy her children and motherhood. At times I wasn't sure whether Tracey was going to return at all and wondered whether she was going to return to her old "pre-drum and bass" routine or continue in the same vain.
That she has managed to carry both off with considerable style and aplomb is a revelation.
The album is awesome from the hauntingly beautiful "Here it Comes Again" through to the more dance oriented "It's All True". "A-Z"'s lyrics hark back to the best of Tracey's storytelling early days and the loping, funky, sax infused "Get Around To It" is a masterpiece. "Grand Canyon" rocks with its bass laden beats and the vocal performace on "Raise the Roof" is reminiscent of Annie Lennox at her finest.
Great to have you back Tracey, motherhood obviously suits you.